Sallie Mae to move 2000 IT and call centre jobs back to US

Sallie Mae to move 2000 IT and call centre jobs back to US

Student loan company Sallie Mae says it will shift its overseas operations back to the US, creating around 2000 domestic IT, call centre and operational support jobs.

The firm will move the work back to the US from operations in India, Mexico and the Philippines over the next 18 months in a move expected to cost around $35 million a year.

Sallie Mae currently employs around 8000 people at 20 locations in the US but has shifted work overseas in recent years in a bid to slash costs. In the fourth quarter of 2008 the firm cut its headcount by 2900 - 26% - reducing operating expenses by 20%.

But Albert Lord, CEO, Sallie Mae, told a press conference at the company's site in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, which will gain 600 new jobs, that the offshoring programme is now being reversed.

"The current economic environment has caused our communities to struggle with job losses. They need jobs, and we will put 2000 of them into US facilities as soon as we possibly can," says Lord.

The move comes as Sallie Mae sweats on plans proposed by the Obama administration to make federal student loans directly through the department of education.

Michael Taiano, an analyst at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, told Reuters the decision to bring jobs back to the US was unlikely to help overturn the administration's proposal but could buy political capital for when details of the student loan programme are worked out.

The contract for servicing the loans is worth at least $200 million a year. It is unlikely that companies with offshore operations could win the work, given the "challenging" personnel and system security requirements, said Chris Greene, a spokesman for the US Department of Education.

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